Karen's eyes welled with tears as she shared that Buddy only has a few weeks to live.
He's been her rock, her guidance, her savior more than once. Cancer is eating away at his being, and there's little left Karen Williams can do to save his life — or even extend his life beyond what the doctors say.
Osteosarcoma will take her companion's life long before either of them is ready.
Buddy is Williams' mixed-breed pit bull, and she's his advocate for an enduring quality of life as he settles into his final days. The only option now is the application of radiation at the site of a tumor that won't extend his life but will help prevent his fragile, cancer-ridden bones from breaking.
Sadly, it has metastasized to his lungs.
"Our hearts broken, we had decisions to make," Linn Creek's Williams explained. "After the CT scan and talking with Dr. Melanie Moore in oncology at the University of Missouri veterinary school, we were told our choices. The best that we have opted for is to give Buddy the quality of remaining life he can possibly have -- pain to be controlled and ability to walk for his remaining time left with us."
But there's more to the story than an aging dog stricken with cancer.
Buddy is a rescue dog from a breeder who was getting out of the dog breeding business. He was a 3-month-old puppy when he came into Williams' life, and early on he was shy and lacking in confidence.
"There was nothing remarkable about him as a puppy, except that he seemed very tenderhearted, had a good temperament and learned quickly," Williams recalled.
Buddy quickly became a well socialized puppy at Williams' newly opened Doggie Day Care, and was the "house dog" as he interacted with other dogs and was a model of what a pit bull could provide to his human partners as a companion dog. He loved the staff, Williams said, and seemed to gain more confidence by the day. Photos and videos reflect how the young pup worked with staff. He seemed to understand when a staff member needed assistance and was quickly at their side for comfort and protection.
As time passed, Williams introduced Buddy into more human environments such as nursing homes, the schools, the hospital and shopping centers.
"Taking Buddy with me all the time, I saw in him something that was God given. He touched so many children, adults and other dogs," Williams recalled.
She took him to carnivals, trade shows, and any other venue that they could work. He was invited to 4H clubs and Bible Schools where he and Williams worked with children in how to properly pet dogs, how to take care of their pets and with those who were afraid of dogs how to help overcome fears. He visited dozens of schools and businesses in Camden County.
Buddy became aware of Williams' asthma and the way different environments affected her health as they continued to bond. He wore a vest that carried water, treats (for him) and Williams' inhalers.
"If I started coughing he would immediately come to me and sit at my feet with my inhalers and water. He was amazing! Buddy and I are inseparable," Williams shared.
He has testimonial letters and certificates from many of the places he visited.
But now the end is near.
Buddy started limping several weeks ago.
"We thought at first that he had a sprain due to jumping off our bed. It did not seem to be getting better and I noticed a 'knot' on his shoulder," Williams said.
At the veterinary appointment, the diagnosis was not something Williams wanted to hear.
"It knocked the breath out of us," she remembered.
The radiation will help with Buddy's pain, and only time will tell how it impacts his spirit. Regardless he will live on in the memories of whose whose lives he touched.